If you think of the world’s great coffee-producing nations, Uganda might not be the first country that comes to mind, however this largely tea-obsessed African nation has played a vital role as the birthplace of the Robusta coffee variety.
Today Uganda is the world’s tenth largest producer of coffee and the number one exporter in Africa, ahead of powerhouse Ethiopia. 80% of Uganda’s production is Robusta while 20% is the better-known and highly-prized Arabica, but with new varieties and techniques, the sector is going from strength to strength providing a vital source of export revenue.
“Uganda is traditionally known for its Robusta coffee, but the Arabica segment is becoming increasingly important as we are getting better at producing very good Arabicas,” claims David Barry, Chairman of Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd.
“Uganda is traditionally known for its Robusta coffee, but the Arabica segment is becoming increasingly important.”
David Barry Chairman of Kyagalanyi CoffeeTweet This
Annual production of coffee has risen steadily, if unspectacularly, from an average of 2.7 million bags in the 1960s to 3.67 million bags in 2013, bringing in $424 million in export earnings, although production dipped slightly in 2014. The European Union is Uganda’s biggest market while China and Korea are increasingly important.
However there is enormous potential for Uganda’s coffee industry to grow exponentially over the coming years. Average yields stand at ten bags per hectare, compared to 60-70 in Brazil, but with most coffee produced by one million smallholders, the challenge is to lift industry standards and improve technology and techniques.